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Spin Control

Mon., April 18, 2011, 4:33 p.m.

WA Lege Day 99: Is there a new tax in Senate bill?

OLYMPIA -- The Senate was about to begin debate on its version of the 2011-13 general operating budget when Sen. Tim Sheldon brought things to a halt with a "point of order."

Sec. 949, which requires the Liquor Control Board to provide a total of $85 million to the general fund over the two year period, is actually a tax increase, Sheldon argued. The board doesn't have that money sitting in reserve, and will have to raise taxes to come up with it.

Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, argued that it's not a tax, because the board is free to come up with the money any way it chooses, including reducing expenses. The budget "makes no assumptions" about how the money is generate, and is therefore not a tax increase.

The Senate went into general milling about while Lt. Gov. Brad Owen, who determines who's right on a point of order, studies the question.

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